Up to 70 gardaí took part in dawn raids in Cork city and county arresting six suspected dissident republicans who are being questioned in connection with the murder of convicted drugs dealer Gerard ‘Topper’ Staunton.
The arrests of five men and a woman were made in the Mayfield, Blackpool, Ballygarvan, Ballintemple and Glanmire areas.
Gardaí also undertook a number of house searches as part of the operation, during which they seized a number of computers, mobile phones and documents.
Uniformed and plainclothes gardaí took part in what was said to be an “intelligence-led operation” along with armed members of the Regional Support Unit.
Two of the arrested men are in their 30s, while one is in his 20s, another in his 40s and the oldest in his 50s. The woman is in her 20s. The oldest man was released without charge last night.
It is believed that the six people are also being questioned about alleged extortion threats to drug dealers operating in the region.
It is the first anniversary today of Staunton’s murder.
The 41-year-old was shot dead in a gangland-style execution in front of his partner and her two young children as they were getting into their car outside their rented home at Westlawn Estate, Wilton, on January 20 last year.
In a leaflet subsequently distributed around pubs in the city, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement said it was contacted by the Real IRA, which said it hoped its “actions will help many parents sleep better at night”.
The A4-sized leaflet also warned the Real IRA had drafted a list of drug dealers “marked for execution” who they said would be targeted “at will”. LastOctober, the Real IRA also claimed that they had killed convicted drug dealer Kieran O’Flynn at his home at Thorndale Estate, Dublin Hill, in 2001.
He was shot a number of times as he went to answer a knock at his front door.
The six arrested yesterday were being detained under Section 30 of the Offences against the State Act, 1939, at Mayfield, Togher, Bridewell and Gurranabraher garda stations.
On February 9 last, 60 garda detectives targeted 20 locations around Cork associated with suspected dissident republicans.
No arrests were made at the time.